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Big Changes Coming To Legislative District Boundaries

Big changes may be coming to Idaho politics next year as the redistricting commission puts the final touches on the new state legislative boundaries.

The lines aren’t set in stone but commissioners have come a long way over the last couple of months and are now down to drawing out the precinct boundaries.

Dividing the state of Idaho into 35 equally populated areas is a huge undertaking.

“Whatever you do in one part of the state impacts the rest of the state,” commission co-chair Allen Andersen said.

The bipartisan commission has strict guidelines they must follow as outlined in the state constitution.

They must divide the fewest number of counties as they can and try to keep cities whole.

For the first time, counties must also be connected by a state or U.S. highway if in the same district.

“Half the state is not connected by a state or federal highway,? Andersen said. ?That has kind of been an impediment in trying to reach an understanding among the commissioners.”

So how are eastern Idaho districts changing?

District 31 will no longer stretch from Teton County to the Utah border.

Madison County and Teton County are joined together to form their own district.

With Fremont and Madison counties now separated, Fremont and Jefferson counties join together in District 34 with Clark County.

Power County unites with Bannock County in the same district as Fort Hall, and Bingham County gets to form its own district.

As for the state’s two congressional districts, the border will move through the same region with minor changes made to ensure both districts have even populations. “We keep as much balance as we can as far as political influence,” Andersen said.

There are many other smaller changes taking place in an effort to keep the same population of around 45,000 people in each district.

As long as four of the six commissioners approve the plan it will become the new map.

The commission only has 90 days to create new legislative and congressional districts, meaning the final plans must be filed by Sept. 4, but they are still subject to change from now until then.

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